We usually take little things for granted – that’s why we clasify them as little things and not big things. In social contexts it can be really hard to tell whether something is big or little. Think no farther than family life. I’m very different from my wife. She’s visually observant and I’m not. It can take me months to notice a piece of furniture or wall decoration. So when it comes to things that cause changes in our visual fields, most things are little to me but big to her.
The U.S. and Europe are both winking – big time – at Lebanon now. We had better be serious. I get the impression the Lebanese have no idea how important their tiny country’s struggle is to the rest of the world. And I wonder if Americans and Europeans have any idea how powerfully the tiniest word of support, even in a politician’s throw-away line at a press conference, resonates here.
So what are we to do when things we do that we think are almost meaningless mean so much – and perhaps in completely unintended ways – to the people who see and hear us? I don’t know the whole of it, but I think the startign point is paying attention. We need to learn to pay attention to what we do and say. We need to learn to pay attention not only to what the people around us do and say, but also how they hear and respond to what we and others say. In practical life, this will likely mean that we act and speak more slowly as we add in more processing time.